3rd February 16

Adlington Great Hall Canopy Restoration

We are delighted and excited to have Donald Smith back restoring some of the fabulous murals, within the Great Hall of Adlington Hall. Donald has been to us a number of times over the years, he always leaves us in awe of his intricate ability to bring the mural paintings back to life. Earlier last year he uncovered some beautiful cherubs that were ‘hiding’ underneath varnish, either side of our seventeenth century Organ, along with red curtain detail. This helps us understand the theatrical art the original artist was trying to produce, to create the illusion of a stage area on the wall surrounding the organ.
Donald is working, this time, on the heraldic insignia of the seven Norman Earls of Chester and the eight Barons (including the shield of Gilbert de Venables, Baron of Kindergarton and ancestor of the Leghs). These are high near the roof above the canopy and murals on the west wall. They have faded dramatically over the many years since they were initially painted circa. 1744.

 Large scaffolding now sits in the Great Hall allowing Donald to carry out his work. We were keen to speak to him and to hear about the process of restoration. After carefully navigating a number of high ladders and scaffolding we reached the top, so close to the roof of The Great hall we could touch it (and did!).


It is hard not to get caught up in Donald’s passion for the work he is doing, on the way up to the top he explained all about the wooden canopy, just below the area he was working on, and how it is actually one oak beam 18 ft long with additional ‘quirky’ wood carvings on top – the caretakers of Adlington Hall are making the most of being able to reach these areas and are working on polishing the wooden carvings to bring new life back to them.

Wood Carving

From the floor, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the insignias are painted directly onto the wall, it is only when you are next to them, up high, you can see that they are actually painted onto canvas – looking closely you can even see the joins of several pieces of canvas to form one large piece. Whether painted first and then put on the wall, or if the canvas was put on the wall and then painted, is something we do not know. Either way the artwork is fabulous! What we do know is that oil paints and gold leaf were used and although up close the work doesn’t look overly refined, from the floor, from a distance, you can see perfectly what the artist was replicating.


Donald explained to us that for the age of the painted canvas it is in very good condition and very little repair is needed, it is mainly cleaning that needs to be done. For the repair work, he will make his own paints, with mixed pigments. As for the cleaning, with the canvas not being varnished and it only being dust and dirt that needs removing, he will be using a non-solvent based cleaner – what that is made up of, Donald would not say… A restorer’s secret!

mid work1

We think you will agree, the insignia look amazing now that Donald has finished. We can’t wait to show it off at our upcoming events over the next few months. We know our bride and groom’s will also love the improvements made at their exclusive Cheshire wedding venue.

Murals & Insignia


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